The ability to work well with others is a critical skill, though not one that everyone excels at. Students at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business are learning that group work doesn’t have to be a drag through a new program called Teams@Haas.
As a new component of the Berkeley Innovative Leader Development (BILD) curriculum, Teams@Haas helps students learn how to become better listeners, provide constructive feedback, and create a collaborative environment that boosts innovative thinking.
Basically, the program gives students a toolkit of skills to work more effectively in team, says Brandi Pearce, an organizational behaviorist who is leading the program. “Unlike when we operate as individuals and we can practice reflexivity, in a group we need to carve out time to exchange information and understand how we perceive the situation,” explains Pearce.
During orientation week, full-time MBA students formed semester-long study groups designed with maximum diversity in mind in order to prepare students for work in a global context across a wide array of boundaries.
A month later, the groups had diagnostic and feedback sessions, and the program includes checkpoints throughout the semester so students could anonymously share their thoughts on how well the group functioned. At semester’s end, Pearce debriefed with students to show them how their teams had evolved and help them recognize best practices, the school says.
This semester, Pearce and a team of coaches are working with full-time and part-time MBA students as they tackle group projects in their experiential learning courses, which are a BILD requirement. So far, response from students has been very positive.
“While we had all worked on teams in our previous jobs, Haas challenged us by putting us in more diverse teams than those we experienced at work,” says Felice Espiritu, MBA/MPH 14, whose study group came from several industries and included students from Switzerland, India, and the East Coast.
“But Haas also gave us the resources to set us up for success and deal with issues that arose in a way that focused on our long-term personal goals and leadership development.”